prompt: peacock, puzzle, electric

If it hadn’t been for the photo on the front of the box, there’d be no way to tell the puzzle was supposed to be a large, colorful peacock. It’d been three hours and Ryland had finished the border, started filling in one corner, and the lightning continued in earnest outside the window. This wasn’t Ryland’s first hurricane, but it was the first since he’d moved out on his own. His first one alone. 

Like clockwork, his mind started to run down the mental list. There were enough batteries for his five flashlights, the shutters had covered the windows since the night before, and the food stores were stocked. Lightning flashed again and Ryland’s fingers clenched around the puzzle piece. The only reason there even was a peacock in the first was because his mother always did puzzles during hurricanes. With rain pounding on their roof, she’d declare them to be calming and time consuming. Once the electricity went, they were able to be done by candlelight or flashlight. 

Lightning struck again, overhead the electricity flickered and even with the puzzle, it was nothing like the storms he remembered growing up. Too quiet inside meant that everything that happened outside only sounded louder. He never felt more alone.

Warmth in the Storm

Over the ocean, in the far off distance, lightning lit up a gray cloud. Anthony shifted on the blanket next to Dean, not quite ready to go inside from their impromptu picnic just yet. The wind picked up and made him curl further into the warmth of Dean’s arm, where it was wrapped around Anthony’s waist.

The crashing of the ocean broke against the sand in front of them, the sunset they’d come out to watch had long since fallen over the horizon, just leaving the faint dusk light and the dancing of lightning. Anthony knew they’d need to go inside soon, that the wind would bring the cloud to shore and with it the oncoming storm.

Dean’s lips brushed across Anthony’s hair, another bolt making him gasp against the dark strands. “We should go inside soon,” Dean whispered between breaking waves.

“We should.” Anthony’s hand hit the box of chocolate at his side and Anthony reached for a piece, holding it up for Dean. Warmth from Dean’s lips wrapped around his fingers, cutting off the chill of the wind.

Dean swiped his tongue against Anthony’s fingertip before pulling back. “Maybe five more minutes,” he said, before another bolt of lightning cut across the sky, this time followed by thunder. “Or maybe three.”

Unconcerned, Anthony hummed, content to sit on this blanket in the sand, under the warmth of Dean’s arms, long after the storm rolled in.

Come Whatever

They’d said goodbye a hundred times already, but Greg knew he’d say it as many times as Jack wanted.

Greg walked the path along the side of the football field, behind the bleachers and down the row of trees that separated the school grounds from the lake. There was only one tree with a trunk thick enough to lean against, and that was where he was heading.

It seemed as if no one else was around, the rest of their graduating class out on the front lawn, where the rows of fold-out chairs and the stage were set up for graduation. But he knew he wouldn’t be alone back here. Not today, when the clock was ticking and they were both due on planes in opposite direction in a day’s time. And this was the last time they’d be on their high school campus together.

Continue reading “Come Whatever”

Nah Nah Naan

“What do you mean you’ve never had curry before?” Jane stirred the pot, in more ways than one. “Do you only eat fried food that’s the color of beige?”

 

Charles gaped. “That’s pretty limiting. I eat lots of things!”

 

“Name me something you’ve eaten in the past week that contained a spice other than salt or pepper.”

 

“Hey!” Charles crossed his arms and leaned against Jane’s kitchen counter. He spun at the spice rack instead of answering and Jane wondered if he knew how much any of them could add to a meal. “I don’t cook much.”

 

“Nay.” She pointed the cooking spoon at her friend. “You don’t cook at all.”

 

“Well…that’s true.”

 

Jane sighed, turning back to the curry and using her hand to waft its smell to her nose. “This may cause some irreparable damage to our friendship.”

 

“The fact that I haven’t had curry?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Well, you’re about to remedy that so…” Charles smiled, wide and contagious, and Jane had to look away or else she’d return it.

 

“It’s always up to me to better you.” The scent of coriander and cumin filled Jane’s small kitchen. “Grab the basket of naan. This is almost done.”

 

“Nah, nah?” Charles questioned, looking around the room. “What’s that?”

 

Jane switched off the stovetop and blew her bangs with an exasperated breath. “It’s literally the only thing in the room in a basket.”

 

Charles smirked. “I’m obviously kidding. I know what a basket is.”

 

“You’ve never had curry before! How am I supposed to know what you do and do not know? Just grab the basket you basket case. I’m about to open your culinary horizons.”

 

—-
Words: Curry/Basket/Irreparable

The Other Side

It was windy on the other side. With each step, Val’s hair whipped around her head, lashing at her cheeks and neck.

“Just another three steps,” the voice in her head said. It was a deep voice, a male voice. The timbre was one she had heard before but could not place. “Through the mirror and you’ll be free.”

And a part of her knew it was a trap. Following a voice that had no body, one that had called to her as she sat curled in a ball by her bed, crying. Her mother had warned her not to follow the voices as she was carted off to the asylum. Yet here she was, following

The wind picked up again, pushing her forward, spinning around her so that it became hard to grasp any of it for a single inhale.

She looked back and Val had expected to see her room, the bed she’d had since she was a child, but all she saw was a field of green grass.

And she knew she had made a mistake.

Lost in a Cave

“Merlin’s beard!”

“Yes?” The man grasped at his mane of white, wispy hair. He pulled it to his eye for inspection. “What about it?”

My gaze was not the only one that moved towards him. I was the only one that stepped forward and asked the question we were all thinking. We were a lost tour group in a cave and there was a man perched behind the railing with a tall, triangular hat and billowing robes.

“Is your name Merlin?” I ask.

The man pulled a twisted pipe out of his chest pocket. “Sometimes.”

“Can you help us get out of here?”

He kicked away from the cavern and in two long paces he was leaning against the railing that kept us from the cave’s natural terrors. He leaned over so our eyes met. I wondered, briefly, if he was one of those terrors.

“How old are you?” he asked, instead of answering my question.

“What does that matter?”

“You’re tiny, are you an undeveloped human or have I been here for longer than I thought?”

“I’m not undeveloped, or whatever, I’m twelve!”

“Well, that explains it them.”

I wanted to kick him, but kicking people was not the way to get what I wanted. “We need help.”

“So you’ve said,” his eyes narrowed, he blew a tendril of smoke into the space between us. “You’re very brave for asking.”

I step back. “Why? Are you dangerous?”

“Sometimes,” he winked then put his pipe back in his pocket and pulled out a long, long, wand, far too long to fit in a pocket. “But I will help you.”

With a flick of his wand, the cave around us fell away. I flinched at the light, hand rising to my eye in instinct. When I lowered it, he was gone.

Failure to Steep

He improperly steeps my tea. His lips form into a distracted smile as he hands me the mug but I know, it’s a power play.

He must have a reason – this man wouldn’t intentionally fail such a task. He’s British, he knows how to steep tea. He wants to see if I’ll say something. Will I?

I haven’t seen this man, this former lover, this former teacher, this former idol, for almost a decade.

He fails to steep my tea. I put it on the table, unable to play his games.

~~~

I cannot stop staring at her knees. Skin as pale as I remember, looks as soft – crap, when did I put the tea bag in? It’s distracting; the slightest movement sends her scent my way. My hands shake as I hand her the tea – I cannot remember what type it is, let alone how long I let it steep.

Prime Ape

The apes part as he walks through the Valley (or, what passed as a valley in this shit-hole of a zoo.) Once, he had a pack of thousands. Now, he had five idiots and a two-way mirror. “They” didn’t think he’d notice the people on the other side. “They” were idiots.

Ugh, people; smelly, fleshy, people. The humans no longer threw peanuts as tokens of admiration in this new cage-like Valley. It had been a weak token, but it was something.

He sits on his boulder and waits; no tokens, no gifts. Just his youngest descendant coming forward to pick fleas out of his hair. At least someone knew their place.

Small and Mighty

“Raise the flag!” The order comes from across the valley where my Commander’s foot rests on the corpse of our greatest enemy.

I am still out of breath from the sprint. My boots are marred with blood and bone, shrapnel bites into my side but the heavy weight of the bag across my shoulder grounds me to this cliff. I have to raise the flag.

With the flag comes true victory. Placing it is an honor bestowed upon me because of my size and strength: small and mighty. I alone climb the highest mountain and plant our emblem for the world to see.

I reach into the bag and – it’s empty. The flag is missing.

It is then that I remember the fabric draped over the trunk in the center of my tent. Set to dry after a ceremonial cleaning. My heard races, the grounds troops have turned towards my direction. They all start shouting, “Raise the flag!”

I hang my head. Small and mighty and forgetful.


 

Inspired by: Cracked Flash Year 1, Week 26